Last week, fine art conservator Andrew Baxter was here on site to treat our bronze sculpture of Sea Hero. Andrew specializes in sculpture conservation and has worked on metal and stone art objects at major institutions like the National Gallery of Art, the White House, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (and the NSLM!). He will be presenting at our upcoming program Hero in the Homestretch: The Sea Hero Symposium on May 30th. Here is a sneak peak at some of the trade secrets he will be sharing in his presentation.

The amazing thing about conservation is, it’s about art and science! This is one of the few times you will see this art historian get excited about math and chemistry!

So how do you go from this:

Barrel of the horse before treatment. Notice the green corrosion and "channels" created by rain water.
Barrel of the horse before treatment. Notice the green corrosion and streaks created by rain water.

To this?

Sea Hero after cleaning, treatment, new patina, and waxing.
Sea Hero after cleaning, treatment, wax, and polishing.

Not surprisingly, conserving an outdoor sculpture starts with the basics – getting it clean.

Andrew Baxter cleans the bronze with a special non-ionic detergent.
Andrew Baxter cleans the bronze with a special non-ionic detergent.

One of the many fun facts I learned last week: Orvus is a shampoo that many horse people are familiar with for cleaning up their equine friends. This same shampoo used to be widely utilized (and is still sometimes used) on bronze sculptures because of it’s non-corrosive nature. Andrew used a similar cleaning agent.

Next comes some more chemistry. The sculpture is treated with a solution which helps slow corrosion. Bronze metal is actually a combination of copper and tin. As most of us have seen, copper wants to turn green when it is out in the elements. While sometimes those green tints and weathered appearance can look beautiful, for bronze they are actually evidence of corrosion (think rust) which ultimately shortens the lifespan of the metal.

Sea Hero during treatment.
Sea Hero during treatment.

Our conservator then carefully applied layers of pigmented wax to protect the bronze and enhance the dark bay (brown-black) patina of the sculpture. Lots of polishing – and a perfectly warm and sunny day – resulted in the gleaming horse you see now in the boxwood garden.

Sea Hero after treatment.
Sea Hero after treatment.

If you want to learn more about how to care for sculptures, and see great images of some of the other beautiful pieces Andrew has worked on, don’t miss his presentation at the symposium! He’ll also be sharing some wonderful stories of his time working for the great philanthropist and art collector Paul Mellon. Also presenting will be Ben Gage – an expert sculpture handler who has installed some amazing large scale artwork. (He is also one of the most enthusiastic art professionals you will ever meet!) And if you’re curious to learn more about the celebrity model for our bronze, racing historian and author Ed Bowen will be speaking about Mellon’s Rokeby Stables and Sea Hero the horse. Sea Hero is the oldest living Kentucky Derby winner and is currently living a life of luxury in Turkey. His 1993 Derby win was the first for owner Paul Mellon, trainer Mackenzie Miller and jockey Jerry Bailey.

Come join us to learn more about them all on May 30th! To read more and register, click here or call us: (540) 687-6542 x. 25

 

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Today’s post is a bit brief. I want to highlight a tiny (about six inches by four inches) foxhunting diary in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room. It was donated by Virginia Fout in 2008. This diary is by an unknown author and covers 1816 to 1820. It features brief, staccato hunting entries.

A foxhunting diary from 1816. Legibility is difficult.
A foxhunting diary from 1816. Legibility is difficult.

Foxhunting is a very old sport, dating back into the 15th and 16th Centuries. Modern foxhunting, however, is generally accepted to have started in the middle of the 18th Century. Many factors contributed to the sport’s rise in popularity. As open fields became enclosed by fences and the Industrial Revolution brought more roadways into rural environments, foxes and hares became a more sporting hunt than the traditional deer hunt. Speaking of foxhunting, don’t forget about our upcoming Foxhunting Roundtable, The Dynamic Role of Lady Masters: A Foxhunting Roundtable. It will take place at NSLM on Saturday, May 23. E-mail us for information on this event

The book is very small, a pocket diary. It's unlikely that notes were made from horseback, as early 18th Century writing utensils were unwieldy and required dipping ink.
The book is very small, a pocket diary. It’s unlikely that notes were made from horseback, as early 18th Century writing utensils were unwieldy and required dipping ink.

The second image shows a diary entry for hunting on December 15 in Stratton Audley. It suggests that the hunter was in South East England. On the inside of the front cover is a news clipping date 1817. It is addressed “To the Editor of the Lichfield Mercury,” and it references the temporary departure of Mr. Osbaldeston’s Fox Hounds to Lincolnshire.

The news clipping. The small size of the book made getting a clear photo nearly impossible for my little digital camera.
The news clipping, with heavy foxing. The small size of the book made getting a clear photo nearly impossible for my little digital camera.

The writing in the diary is very difficult to make out. Hopefully one day soon this little book will be digitized, and then the public will be able to try their hand and transcribing it! What words can you make out? Tell us in the comments!

Jim Casada came to the National Sporting Library & Museum in 2014 for a John H. Daniels Fellowship. Mr. Casada writes the books column for Sporting Classics. He wrote a wonderful article about NSLM and his fellowship in the latest issue of the magazine. Mr. Casada will be returning to the NSLM for a lecture and book signing on July 7, 2015. This is a preview of Mr. Casada’s article. You can read the whole article at Sporting Classics Daily

During the summer of 2014 I received a John H. Daniels Research Fellowship at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) in Middleburg, Virginia. The fellowship supported my research toward producing a biography of Archibald Rutledge, longtime poet laureate of South Carolina and possibly the most prolific outdoor writer of the 20th century.

My time, however, at the NSLM involved appreciably more than delving into their first-rate Rutledge holdings. Simply put, my fellowship tenure in Middleburg was an eye- opening, enchanting experience involving an excellent collection with unlimited potential for growth. The library is constantly expanding its holdings and is already a significant research center in a number of fields, but it has the potential to become the focal point for the study of America’s sporting past.

Books shelved in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.
Books shelved in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

Many years ago Yale University had a golden opportunity to become such a repository, thanks to alumnus Charles A. Sheldon, who died in 1930 and left the university his impressive personal library of sporting literature. Sadly, Yale did not seize the momentum offered by the acquisition of Sheldon’s thousands of books, pamphlets, bulletins, and long runs of sporting magazines. More than four-score years have passed, yet there is no evidence that the university has made any effort to expand or update the Sheldon collection. Had they done so, the Ivy League institution would now have a magnificent holding of inestimable potential for anyone researching subjects relating to conservation, hunting, fishing, and life outdoors.

Fortunately, the Sheldon collection is covered fully and is the sole listing in John Phillips’ Bibliography of American Sporting Books, 1582–1925, published shortly after Sheldon’s death in 1930. And in 1997 Meadow Run Press, now an inactive sporting publisher I hope to cover in a future column, brought out a continuation of the Phillips bibliography with M. L. Biscotti’s A Bibliography of American Sporting Books, 1926-1985. Together, the pair forms a logical starting point for anyone wanting to take a comprehensive look at the evolution of American sporting literature. They also offer a solid roadmap for creating a truly comprehensive collection of works on American sport—no such holding, outside of the Library of Congress, presently exists.

Books from the Meadow Run Press shelved in the Main Reading Room.
Books from the Meadow Run Press shelved in the Main Reading Room.

Perhaps it is just as well. In today’s world, the ivory tower and the hunter’s ethos are seldom ideal soulmates—although such was not always the case. Consider the life of Theodore Roosevelt for example. Indeed, in many parts of current academia, even in fields of study such as wildlife biology, a distinct anti-hunting bias prevails.

Read the rest of this article at Sporting Classics Daily

I am very pleased to announce the arrival of three new additions to the collections here at the NSLM. (Those of you who were here for our first Open Late concert got a sneak preview!) We had to wait quite a while to complete the installations – first for some landscaping and facility projects to be finished and then for the seemingly never-ending winter to end. But now that spring has sprung – so have our new sculptures!

We are grateful to the generous donors who gifted these lovely works to the permanent collection. Thanks are also due to the staff who helped make the installations possible. We installed the sculptures with the safety of our visitors and the safety of the artwork in mind.

Here is the roster of the newest outdoor works, who will welcome you to campus on your next visit.

Jean Clagett (American, b. 1945), Darn That Itch, 2014, bronze, 31 ½ H x 36 L x 23 W inches  Gift of Jacqueline B. Mars, 2014 (© Jean Clagett)
Jean Clagett (American, b. 1945), Darn That Itch, 2014, bronze, 31 ½ H x 36 L x 23 W inches
Gift of Jacqueline B. Mars, 2014 (© Jean Clagett)
The new Clagett bronze in front of the Museum building.
The new Clagett bronze in front of the Museum building.

This charming little filly, reaching to nibble at an itch, is number 2 of 5 casts by Jean Clagett. This piece was commissioned by donor Jacqueline B. Mars from the Virginia based artist, specifically for the NSLM. For any of you lucky enough to go to the Rolex 3-Day event at the Kentucky Horse Park this year, you would have seen another sculpture by Clagett – a life-size bronze of Olympian Bruce Davidson aboard his champion event horse, Eagle Lion.

The Clagett bronze, part-way through the installation process.
The Clagett bronze, part-way through the installation process.
J. Clayton Bright, Red Fox (Vulpes Fulva), bronze, 13 ½ x 30 ¾ inches Gift of an Anonymous Donor, 2013 (© J. Clayton Bright)
J. Clayton Bright (American, b. 1946), Red Fox (Vulpes Fulva), bronze, 13 ½ x 30 ¾ inches
Gift of an Anonymous Donor, 2013
(© J. Clayton Bright)
The new Clayton Bright bronze on the wall in front of the old Vine Hill building.
The new Clayton Bright bronze on the wall in front of the old Vine Hill building.

Artist J. Clayton Bright is based in Pennsylvania. He is a sculptor, as well as a painter, who is best known for his animal subjects, like this life-size fox. Learn more about his process for creating bronze sculptures here (his studio website features a great slide show explaining the process for the “lost wax method”).

Rupert Till (English, b. 1969), After the Chase, 2005, steel wire, 20 ½ H x 46 L x 10 ½ W inches Gift of Reverend Elijah White, in memory of Anita Graf White, M.F.H 1970 – 2005, 2013 (© Rupert Till)
Rupert Till (English, b. 1969), After the Chase, 2005, steel wire, 20 ½ H x 46 L x 10 ½ W inches
Gift of Reverend Elijah White, in memory of Anita Graf White, M.F.H 1970 – 2005, 2013
(© Rupert Till)

English artist Rupert Till has been working with wire for over 20 years. He started out sculpting steel wire (chicken wire) and now also works with bronze and copper. The figures he creates out of this surprisingly versatile medium are full of character, movement, and expression. Check out some of his other works here.  This wire sculpture was generously donated by Reverend Elijah White, in memory of his late wife, Anita Graf White, who was a former M.F.H. of the Loudoun Hunt.

Our Facilities Manger (and installation expert) Aaron preparing the ground for the sculpture's concrete base.
Our Facilities Manger (and sometimes sculpture installer!) Aaron preparing the ground for the sculpture’s concrete base.

We’ll be adding some outdoor labels for these new sculptures soon. Now that nice weather is here, we hope you will come visit and enjoy the new outdoor installations!

Happy World Book Day! In celebration, I’m going to share with you the books that make the biggest impression when I give tours: the fore-edge painting books. Fore-edge painting is the very old practice of painting tiny images on the edges of the pages.

Fishing Scene, Fore-edge painting, fanned to the right. The Poetical Works of Thomas Campbell, London, Edward Moxon, 1840.
Fishing Scene, Fore-edge painting, fanned to the right. The Poetical Works of Thomas Campbell, London, Edward Moxon, 1840. Gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.

The book block is angled and clamped while the tiny watercolor painting is made.

Foxhunting Scene, Fore-edge painting, fanned to the right, Thoughts on Hunting in a Series of Familiar Letters to a Friend, by Peter Beckford, Esq., London, Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1820. Gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.

After drying, the clamp is released and a bookbinder applies marbling or gilt to the closed book. This makes the painting invisible when the book is closed, but it appears when the pages are fanned.

The gilt edges hide the painting on the edge. To the casual observer, there's nothing special here...
The gilt edges hide the painting on the edge. To the casual observer, there’s nothing special here…

NSLM’s fore-edge painting collection is housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room. We have about 30 of them, and they depict riding, hunting, or fishing scenes.

Hunting Scene, Fore-edge painting, fanned to the right, The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edinburgh and London, Gall & Inglis, Gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.
Hunting Scene, Fore-edge painting, fanned to the right, The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edinburgh and London, Gall & Inglis. Gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.

Most of them date from the middle of the 19th Century to the early 20th Century. Although fore-edge painting is rare, there are still some artists who produce fore-edge art today.

Shooting Scene, Fore-edge painting, fanned to the right, The Bird, by Jules Michelet; with 210 illustrations by Giacomelli, London, T. Nelson and Sons, 1872. Gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.
Shooting Scene, Fore-edge painting, fanned to the right, The Bird, by Jules Michelet, London, T. Nelson and Sons, 1872. Gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.

Do you have a hidden painting in your old books? Check your book collections and fan the pages. You never know what you might find!

It’s been a while since I had a chance to write on the blog, so I figured now would be a good time to highlight one of our most distinctive treasures in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room. The book is called Shokuba Ko, which translated from the original Japanese means, “How to Ornament Horses.” It’s part of the John H. Daniels Collection.

The book is bound with thread, and was published around 1856, just after Matthew Perry's landing spurred the tumultuous "Bakumatsu" period where Japan reopened to the West.
The book is bound with thread, and was published around 1856, just after American Captain Matthew Perry’s landing spurred the tumultuous “Bakumatsu” period in which Japan reopened to the West.
The Japanese were very familiar with the horse as a means of military transportation. This volume explores the ceremonial attire for horses on parade.
The Japanese were very familiar with the horse as a means of military transportation. This volume explores the ceremonial attire for horses on parade.
The book is an example of Japanese woodblock printing, and the colors are still vibrant almost 160 years after publication.
The book is an example of Japanese woodblock printing, and the colors are still vibrant almost 160 years after publication.
Each piece of tack is listed and described.
Each piece of tack is listed and described.
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The saddle (lower right) and saddle-blanket (upper right).

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The horses in this image wear Chinese-style stirrups, which were ring-shaped.
The horses in this image wear Chinese-style stirrups, which were ring-shaped.
The book was written by Katsumi Matoba. The first volume is text, and the second volume contains illustrations.

 

On the lower left are Japanese-style stirrups: sandal-like cups attached to chains.
On the lower left are Japanese-style stirrups: sandal-like cups attached to chains.

Shokuba Ko is a favorite on tours of the Library. It doesn’t appear on every tour, but it comes out often. I hope you’ll come to visit the Library soon, and maybe you can see this and many of our other printed treasures up close!

Don’t miss the chance to Meet the Artist Henry Koehler on Saturday, April 11th. He will be in the exhibition galleries to chat about Sporting Accoutrements: The Still Lifes of Henry Koehler from noon to 1 pm. It is a Free Admission Day. If you have time, make a day of it; stay for a showing of the movie classic, International Velvet, in the Library’s Founders’ Room beginning at 1 p.m. The film is also free of charge.

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It was an honor to be invited to be on a first-name basis with Henry Koehler. He has been a noted sporting artist for over fifty years, and he may still be found at his easel. A great conversationalist, Henry said to me jokingly a while back, “Forgive me for repeating myself, but I will be eighty-eight years old in February.” I chuckled, but it struck me to the core.  His charm, intelligence, and quick wit are timeless. I hadn’t done the math. Of course he is now eighty-eight; he was born in 1927.

Henry is from a generation of talented artists who found a niche in illustration art before the rise to photography in many periodicals. He graduated from Yale in 1950, moved to New York, and quickly became a successful commercial artist regularly featured in such magazines as Sports Illustrated, Vogue, Town & Country, and The New Yorker.  Henry’s confident line drawings show his illustration background. Below is a sketch that he donated to the NSLM of sporting scholar Alexander Mackay-Smith, one of the institution’s founders. The charcoal is a preparatory study for the final version which appeared in the article, Rampart of Pedigree by Huston Horn (text only), in Sports Illustrated in February 11, 1963. (If you read the article, you will see that not much has changed in Middleburg!)

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Henry Koehler (American, b.1927), Alexander Mackay-Smith, charcoal on paper, 24 x 18 inches, NSLM Permanent Collection, Gift of the Artist, 2012, © Henry Koehler

Henry had an early love of sailing, and one of his college roommates introduced him to foxhunting. He took to it immediately and followed the Litchfield County Hounds, in Middlebury, CT, for seven years. “One of the advantages of being a painter, if luck goes right, you can paint what you like, what you love to do anyway,” he says about his two passions. His success brought the attention of Jacqueline Kennedy, who saw his sailing images in Sports Illustrated and commissioned him to produce a painting of President Kennedy sailing as a gift to her husband. Below is a link to the informative CBS News article and delightful interview between Henry and his stepson, CBS correspondent Anthony Mason, delving into the fascinating story surrounding the commissions by the Kennedy family in the mid-1960s.

CBSNews.com: JFK Painting Finds Its Way Back to the Artist Fifty Years After Brush with Camelot

Henry Koehler in his studio with his stepson CBS correspondent, Anthony Mason, with a painting Koehler created in 1963 of President and Mrs. Kennedy sailing the Victura which recently resurfaced after fifty years. (image © CBS News | source: http://cbsnews1.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2013/03/01/5a336b7b-a645-11e2-a3f0-029118418759/thumbnail/620×350/09ea17d8c0842eab45e487d20c12c223/paintingjfk.jpg)

By the early 1960s, Henry recognized the negative impact photography was having on illustration art and turned his attention to easel painting. His enjoyment of hunting broadened to include observing and painting other equestrian pursuits. Since then, he has easily moved through international sporting circles sketching and painting many of the major race courses and tracks, polo events, and hunts in the United States, England, France, and Italy throughout his career. Henry has touched on not only equestrian pursuits, but most all traditional turf and field sports in his work, including fishing and shooting. To-date he has had over seventy gallery and museum exhibitions.

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Henry Koehler (American, b. 1927), Fox Hunter’s Accoutrements, 2001, oil on canvas on panel, 10 x 13 inches, Private Collection, © Henry Koehler

Although he has worked on commission, Henry is not known for formal portraiture.  Instead, he prefers to capture the atmosphere of a given scene, looking for intimate and often informal moments, from every perspective. His observations of horse racing, for example, might include clamorous starts; studies of jockeys milling about, weighing in, or adjusting a boot, often from innovative angles; the saddling paddock; a jockey’s valet tending to tack; engaged spectators; and a grouping of discarded jockeys’ helmets.

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Henry Koehler (American, b.1927), Jockeys Between Races, Newmarket, 2009, oil on canvas, 12 x 16 inches, NSLM Permanent Collection, Gift of the artist, 2012, © Henry Koehler

In his varied approach to his compositions, Henry includes still lifes. These more contemplative works sometimes take a back seat to his more dynamic compositions. The exhibition, Sporting Accoutrements: The Still Lifes of Henry Koehler, was an opportunity to isolate Henry’s paintings of fox and stag hunting, racing, polo, fishing, and shooting paraphernalia, giving the visitor a quiet, introspective experience. Working with Advisor and NSLM Board Member Lorian Peralta-Ramos, each painting was selected to highlight the artist’s deep knowledge and respect for the objects and the nature of their use.

If you would like to learn more about Henry Koehler and his exhibition, come out to meet him in person on April 11th and have a chat. I promise, it will be worth your time. Exhibition catalogues are also available at the front desk and at the NSLM’s Amazon Marketplace.

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Cover of exhibition catalogue: Henry Koehler (American, b.1927), Sporting Gear Hanging, 2002 (detail), oil on canvas, 26 ¾ x 19 ½ inches, Private Collection, © Henry Koehler